Fast Forward: Warriors aim to conquer Mt. Everest in San Antonio

Fast Forward: Warriors aim to conquer Mt. Everest in San Antonio
April 2, 2014, 11:30 am
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This is the best team in basketball. They've had an incredible year. We understand what we're facing, but the bottom line is we're looking forward to it.
Mark Jackson on the Spurs

KEYS TO THE GAME
1) Play loose. Under the circumstances, this is the likeliest loss on the Warriors schedule.
2) Love the ball. Treat it with kindness and respect, never giving it away cheaply.
3) Pen Parker. Tony Parker thrives on getting into the paint, so Klay Thompson and his defensive associates must do all they can to hem him in.

The Warriors can enter their personal dungeon without apprehension. They'd like to win, want to win. But this is one instance when they would not be demoralized by another loss to the Spurs.

Which actually cracks open the door of possibility Wednesday night at San Antonio.

After stealing a win Tuesday in Dallas, getting another in San Antonio would be nothing less than lavish abundance. The Spurs are the NBA's hottest team, winning 18 in a row. And they've spent nearly 20 years bullying various Warriors squads.

The Warriors (46-28) are going from beating long odds against the Mavs to trying to conquer Mt. Everest in their underwear. Nobody, perhaps not even themselves, expects them to make it.

“Just do what we do,” Warriors coach Mark Jackson said. “This is the best team in basketball. They've had an incredible year. We understand what we're facing, but the bottom line is we're looking forward to it.”

So the Warriors ought to be free and loose, playing as if they have nothing to lose. The Spurs (58-16) have beaten the Warriors in three previous meeting this season, the last two without Tim Duncan or Manu Ginobili. San Antonio coach Gregg Popovich held them out simply to rest his aging stars.

But Popovich has implied his team could use a wake-up call, or as he put it, they might need to get “slapped” with a loss to strip them of any pretense of invincibility.

“I think he'll be happy if we lose anytime soon,” point guard Tony Parker said. “I'm pretty sure, because he's going to rest like half of the team.”

The Warriors would like nothing more than to be that team. A victory not only would snap San Antonio's current overall win streak but also its 30-game home win streak over the Warriors, who last won in San Antonio on Feb. 14, 1997.

But nobody would or should begrudge them if the Warriors don't have enough to pull off the upset. They remain without starting center Andrew Bogut and starting forward David Lee. And they are one night removed from a labor-intensive overtime victory over another team in the playoff race.

“It took everything in them to pull this off,” Jackson said of the win over Dallas, secured on a Stephen Curry buzzer-beater with .1 second left.

It's hard to imagine the Warriors having much of anything left for Wednesday night. So there are no expectations. There is zero pressure. Sometimes, such conditions play in favor of the underdog.

MATCHUPS TO WATCH: Curry vs. Parker. Though Klay Thompson gets this defensive assisgnment, it's still a battle of supreme point guards. The one with the best game gives his team the best chance to win.

Thompson vs. Kawhi Leonard. Thompson gets to test his game against arguably the league's No. 1 wing defender. Leonard can lock up the best, and he's been assigned to Thompson ever since the teams met in Game 2 of the playoffs last season.

Warriors bench vs. Spurs bench. San Antonio has the deepest bench in the NBA; it alone was enough to beat the Warriors last December at Oracle Arena. The Warriors have fortified their reserves since then. If Jordan Crawford gets on a roll, things could get interesting.

INJURY REPORT: For the Warriors, PF David Lee (strained right hamstring) is extremely doubtful. C Andrew Bogut (pelvis/groin contusion) and C Festus Ezeli (right knee surgery rehab) are out.

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